How to Collage with Inkscape

Greetings! Today I wanted to share a method I use for creating artwork…one that is quick, easy, and somewhat addicting. Creating collage using a digital program may seem daunting, but it’s actually a really easy way to make art, especially if you’re not as gifted in the whole technical aspect. For today I am using Inkscape, which at this time is a free program that can be downloaded (you can get it from their official website: Keep in mind the techniques I’m using today are somewhat advanced and although I will try to walk through it as simply as possible, you may also consider experimenting and becoming more familiar with Inkscape if you are a first time user before attempting this tutorial.

The first step for any type of collage-making is to collect materials for collage. Doing this digitally is easy, since there are so many great images on the internet. Google images is great for getting images if you know what specifically you’re looking for, but I also really like Pinterest for finding images, especially if I don’t have anything specific in mind. If you have a scanner, you can also scan images you have, which is nice if you want to use an image from, say, a magazine but don’t want to cut it out and stick it in a collage. I have an Inkscape file specifically for images I find. You can insert images into Inkscape by either copy/pasting it or importing the image (File–> Import. The image must be saved to your computer first).

Once you have a nice collection of pictures that inspire you, you may begin to collage.

Which brings one small conflict, how can we collage with Bitmap images in Inkscape? How can we cut up photos when they are not Inkscape images? Well, we must first make the image an Inkscape image. Once we do that, we can cut up the image and use it as we please. How we do that, though, is through a tedious multi-step process. Once you’ve used it a couple times and start to memorize it though, it will only take you a minute or two to manipulate an image:

1) First, add the image of choice by importing or copy/pasting it on your page.

2) Click Ctrl+d to make a copy. The copy will be right on top of the original image, so click and drag it away from the original. You are done with the original image, so you can delete it if you would like.

3) Next, click Object–> Pattern –> Object to Pattern at the top of your screen (make sure you have your copied image selected). This will save the image as a pattern for you to use.

4) If you don’t already have the Fill and Stroke panel open, go to the top of your screen and click Object –> Fill and Stroke.

5) The panel will open up on the right hand side of your screen. Click on the Fill tab. You will see several squares towards the top of that tab. Select the one that looks like a checkerboard.

6) Now use your Square/Rectangle tool (the blue square on the left hand side of your screen) to create a large square. Back to our Fill and Stroke Panel, select from the drop down menu the pattern you made (which will say pattern and a number). This will make the square’s fill the same as your image!

7) Now you can begin cutting up you image. Whatever parts you want to keep, trace around it with the Bezier tool. Now select the outline you just made and click on Object –> Raise to Top. Drag the outline on top of the patterned image.

8) Select the outline, then hold down the Shift key while you select the patterned image. Go to Path –> Intersection. Viola! You can also get rid of what’s on the inside of your outline by selecting Difference instead.

Like I said, this process may seem tedious at first but you get quicker at it with time. Plus, because you’re making a collage you don’t need to trace the object you’re cutting out perfectly, which also saves time.

The rest from there is up to you. In addition to using images, you can also use tools in Inkscape like filters to change your image. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial… have fun collaging!

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